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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

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Attorney General candidates debate in Richmond

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The two men vying to be Virginia’s next Attorney General will meet in an afternoon debate today (Thursday) in Richmond. Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Del. Steve Shannon (D) have met in several debates, most of which have received limited media coverage.

The debate starts at 1:15 and takes place at the Omni in the James River Ballroom. The forum is being hosted by the Richmond Bar Association as part of their Bench Bar Conference. The event is a cooperative effort from a number of bar associations in Central Virginia.

The Shannon campaign is going to stream the debate live on the internet if you can’t make it to the Omni. From what I can tell, the webcast is being produced by the Shannon Team. You can check it out by clicking here.

Much like his two Republican ticketmates, Sen. Cuccinelli leads in every single public poll that has been released in the last three weeks. However, conventional wisdom dictates that many Virginians don’t pay very close attention to the down ballot races until closer to election day. With only 12 days to go, this debate could be the first time many voters take the opportunity to get a look at both candidates.

Written by Ryan Nobles

October 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

McDonnell/GOP Ticket opens wide lead in new poll

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While much fodder has been made over a series of polls taken in the race for Governor most of them have been open to skepticism because of their method for gathering the information. Many of these polls were conducted via automated means, which is still widely debated as an appropriate statistical gathering mechanism.

Often times, reputable national mainstream media outlets would report on the polling in the race and would use a caveat when describing the numbers, because of the use of that method. It would lead them back to the last Washington Post poll conducted last month that showed the race as a virtual tie.

That survey will no longer matter, as today the Post released another phone survey, of more than 1,000 Virginia residents that now shows Bob McDonnell and his Republican ticketmates leading by 9 points. In addition to the encouraging news for Republicans in the overall numbers, the insider numbers show McDonnell shrinking the gap he once had with female voters, increasing his lead with independents and running competitively in Northern Virginia. There is very little that could be considered encouraging for the campaign of Creigh Deeds.

This latest poll, now gives McDonnell an 8.5% lead in the new average of public polling data gathered by Real Clear Politics.

However, this by no means indicates the race is over. Deeds, you will recall trailed by similar numbers in the Democratic primary before pulling ahead in the 11th hour and the candidates have two more debates on the docket before the final vote on November 3rd.  Deeds officials continue to say that their internal polling numbers show a race far more competitive than the public polling would indicate.

Here is a breakdown in all three statewide races according to the Washington Post poll:

Bob McDonnell (R)        53%
Creigh Deeds (D)    44%

Lt. Governor
Bill Bolling (R)                49%
Jody Wagner (D)           40%

Attorney General
Ken Cuccinelli (R)         49%
Steve Shannon (D)       40%

New poll confirms competitive race for Governor (updated)

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Yet another poll released today shows the race for Governor of Virginia has become tight. Public Policy Polling, which at one point had Republican Bob McDonnell with a lead of as much as 7 points, now has his lead shrunk to only 5 points. The survey gives McDonnell an advantage only slightly outside the margin of error.

While this poll confirms a promising trend for Democrat Creigh Deeds, there has yet to be a poll that shows him with a lead.  (The Real Clear Politics average shows McDonnell with a lead of little more than 4 points)

According to PPP, Deeds has room to grow. A large pool of undecided voters describe themselves as Democrats and there is evidence that a recently lackluster crowd of Dems are finally starting to warm up to the idea of voting for Deeds in November. On the flip side, McDonnell still enjoys a wide margin of support among Independent voters and female voters do not seemed to be impacted greatly by the revelation of the candidate’s master’s thesis.

The news is not as good for down ballot Democrats. Both Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon trail Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli,  respectively by margins consistent with what they have been over the course of the campaign.


Not long after PPP released the results of their poll, did Survey USA, and WDBJ-TV released a separate survey with dramatically different results. This poll shows Bob McDonnell, with a comfortable 14 point lead.  Not surprisingly, Republicans are pushing these results and finding problems with the PPP poll.

Here is the breakdown of the numbers of both polls, side by side:

Governor:                 PPP      SURVEY USA

Bob McDonnell (R)-  48%           55%
Creigh Deeds (D)-      43%             41%

Lt. Governor:

Bill Bolling (R)-          43%             54%

Jody Wagner (D)-     35%             41%

Attorney General:

Ken Cuccinelli (R)-     43%           53%

Steve Shannon (D)-    34%           42%

See the full results  of the PPP Poll here.

See the full results of the Survey USA Poll here.

NFIB now gets behind Ken Cuccinelli

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The National Federation of Independent Businesses has finally released their endorsement in the race for Attorney General and they have “whole heartedly” gotten behind the campaign of republican Ken Cuccinelli.

NFIB released their endorsements for Governor and Lt. Governor a little less than a month ago and did not weigh in on the race for AG. At the same time, curiously, Steve Shannon released a statement “thanking” the organization for their consideration after learning he was not going to be endorsed.

Strangely, representatives from the NFIB could not tell me when and if they were going to endorse in the campaign. They basically responded by telling me that would put me on their mailing list for future announcements. Today that announcement came.

Ken Cuccinelli is their candidate and despite the delayed arrival of their support the organization has promised they will do “everything in their power” to help him win. .

You can read the full statement after the jump.

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Written by Ryan Nobles

September 18, 2009 at 10:57 am

The curious case of the NFIB endorsement

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Ryan Nobles – bio | email

This week, The National Federation of Independent Businesses announced their endorsements of statewide candidates in Virginia. The endorsements came with great fanfare.  They were splashed on the group’s website, fired out in press releases and of course, touted by the candidates who earned the support.

There was only one problem, they forgot one.

NFIB, a group that represents small business owners across the country, while non-partisan, generally endorses republicans. It was not much of a surprise that they chose to get behind Bob McDonnell for Governor and Bill Bolling for Lt. Governor. But in the race for Attorney General they did not offer an opinion of any kind.

The situation got strange when Steve Shannon, the democratic candidate for Attorney General released a statement, thanking the NFIB for their “consideration”, even though he learned that he would not receive the endorsement. Privately, Shannon has been working hard to court the endorsement of pro-business groups that traditionally support Republicans. Senior campaign officials have told me “not to be surprised” when the candidate picks up the nod of organizations that go against the top of the democratic ticket. This was evident when the Virginia Association of Realtors picked McDonnell and Bolling, but then broke ranks and endorsed Shannon over his republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli.

But while this “non-endorsement” looks like a minor victory for the Shannon camp, NFIB seems to be holding on to their right to support one of the two candidates before the end of the campaign. A staff member at the NFIB told me that they hadn’t endorsed in the race for Attorney General “yet”.  So far my inquiries looking for more information regarding the endorsement have gone unanswered. If I learn more, I will let you know.

The full statement from Steve Shannon can be found after the jump..

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Written by Ryan Nobles

August 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

New poll gives Republican ticket commanding lead

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WDBJ-TV in Roanoke just released a new SurveyUSA poll that is very encouraging for the Republican candidates running statewide in Virginia. According to the results, the GOP holds leads in the race for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General outside of the margin of error.

Here are the results (Republicans all listed first):

Bob McDonnell- 55%
Creigh Deeds- 40%
Undecided- 5%

Lt. Governor:
Bill Bolling- 52%
Jody Wagner- 42%
Undecided- 4%

Attorney General:
Ken Cuccinelli- 53%
Steve Shannon- 42%
Undecided- 6%

The results are difficult to argue with, especially in light of the fact that Democrats had appeared to close a gap that had been there throughout their gubernatorial primary.  It is also bound to get national attention in light of the fact that some polls show President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have dipped below 50% for the first time and new poll in New Jersey shows that, Chris Christie the Republican challenger to John Corzine has taken a 14 point lead in their race.

For their part the GOP is working hard to sell the story that the Democratic brand is fading fast. The President is in Bristol, VA today for a town hall on Health Care and the RNC released a statement today accusing Creigh Deeds of going out of his way to avoid appearing with the President. The Deeds campaign has repeatedly said that they are not going to politicize White House policy events and of course Deeds will hold a major rally with the President next week in McLean.

While these numbers are encouraging for Republicans and show a very small number of undecided voters, there is still a long way to go before election day and chances are many voters are not paying very close attention quite yet.

Melendez-Diaz forces AG candidates into action

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cooch and shannon If you thought for one minute that the race for Attorney General was going to play second or perhaps third fiddle in statewide Virginia politics in 2009, think again. This race at one point appeared to be a minor league contest that was going to based on the long coattails of the highly publicized campaign for Governor. However in the early going it is clear that the personalities and the positions of both Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Steve Shannon will force voters to observe this contest on its own.

The most obvious example of how the AG’s race is an independent animal is the way in which the candidates drove the discussion related to fall out from the Melendez-Diaz Supreme Court decision. While the repercussions of the ruling, clearly are filled with public safety implications, the solutions to the problems are almost completely reliant on action by the Governor. Yet in this very important, nationally watched race for Governor, it was not Creigh Deeds or Bob McDonnell who were out front offering solutions to problem, it was the candidates for Attorney General.

Not only were the Attorney General candidates the only ones publicly discussing the issue, but but it was Cuccinelli who first suggested bringing the legislature together for a special session. The exact course of action that Governor Tim Kaine took this morning. (Our Andy Jenks reported on the issue today on NBC12)

Of course now that the debate over Melendez-Diaz has now gone from campaign rhetoric to actual government action, both Cuccinelli and Shannon are rushing to make sure voters know they were ones ahead of the game. This task is a bit more of a challenge for Steve Shannon. When Cuccinelli was calling for the Governor to call the legislature back immediately, Shannon was calling for a more measured approach. He even went as far as to call Cuccinelli’s push for a special session a “stunt”.

Today, Republican party leaders called Shannon’s reaction to the SCOTUS decision embarrassing. “Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, initially called Ken Cuccinelli’s request for a special session a ‘stunt,’” said Pat Mullins, the RPV chair “Well, I guess the governor from his own party disagrees with him. I don’t think that’s the kind of thing you want to pull if you’re arguing to be the state’s top lawyer.”

But Shannon said that much of the work he did on Melendez-Diaz came behind the scenes and that the Governor and his team did exactly what he advised. They took a step back and determined what all their options were before hastily calling the legislature back.  Shannon said that calling the Legislature back is only a small part of a comprehensive Melendez-Diaz fix and that much like he suggested it will still require plenty of “administrative” changes. “There are some things we can do legislatively to respond in the short term,”  Shannon said.  “(They will)  pave the way for the administrative fixes that will keep these cases from being dismissed in court.”

This is an incredibly heady and intricate debate at a very early stage of the campaign. Don’t think for one minute that we won’t be seeing plenty more of this before November.

Written by Ryan Nobles

July 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm